Routine and resistance

Don’t writers hate routine? Not if they want to get serious writing done. After time away, removed from the U.S., the internet, social media and my daily routine, I’m back into it. There’s a lot to be said for getting completely away. But getting back, getting over jetlag and catching up on sleep also reminded me of the importance of routine in writing.

How dedicated are you? Or, if you prefer, how important is writing to you? I know people with families who work full-time and get up at 3 or 4 in the morning in order to have a couple of quiet hours to write. It’s that important to them. I’ve found that, like exercise, it works for me to start writing as soon as I can in the morning. At one of his lectures at Antioch, Marcos Villatoro talked about the importance for him of going straight to his desk from his dream state, barely stopping along the way to pick up a cup of coffee. It’s not so vital to me to get to the blank page directly out of sleep, but it is important for me to get some writing done in the morning, in part to have a feeling of accomplishment.

There are two takes on resistance and both have helped my writer friends. Take a look at Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and the follow-up, Do the Work. The other is that resistance is not so much something to overcome as it is a necessary part of the process, like a caterpillar emerging from the cocoon. Does resistance make your writing better? More thoughts on that here.

One thing that helped to get back into my writing routine was editing. I prepared Dead Weight as an ebook and published it via Smashwords. It’s available on iTunes and will soon be up on Amazon, Sony, Barnes & Noble, eDiesel, etc. (believe me, I’ll let you know when!) You can also buy it directly from Smashwords.

Discipline leads into the creative work. What’s your routine? What works best for you to get the writing done?

courage

I met a lot of talented writers at Antioch. My cohort still checks in weekly and we help keep each other encouraged, on track, etc. This morning, one phrase jumped out at me.  One woman was writing about courage and said she thinks of a number of things like the people dancing in the streets in Egypt, but she also mentioned  “all of us our face alight with the glow of submishmash clicking Send.” Isn’t that a great image?

One of the most sobering things I’ve heard on the artistic life was from Orson Wells. We always hear phrases like ‘cream rises to the top’ and so on, that if you’re talented, you will be recognized and have glorious success. He threw cold water on that hot hope. He said he’d seen dozens of very talented people never able to break through. So yes, courage is continually trying against the odds.

Esperanza Spalding just won Best New Artist at the Grammys last night. She’s quoted as being influenced by BB King (quoting Jesus) She said, “B.B. King once said ‘You can’t serve two masters,’ and to me, that means you have to decide if music is something that expresses that inner voice and the divine connection that is music, or [is] something created to meet other people’s expectations. I’ve chosen the path of serving that muse.”

It can be a struggle to focus on the work instead of continually thinking of the audience, especially in the performing arts, but it also applies to the literary arts. We do this not only for ourselves. Art is communication. You’re creating a relationship with a reader. It also led me to take a hard look at this new project. I’m not starting from scratch, but I am starting over in some sense. This time with an eye and ear for the muse, not what I think the audience (as opposed to my ideal reader) would like. The war of art continues…